Smith Creek

Smith Creek was named May 30, 1859 by Captain James H. Simpson for one of his assistants: Lieutenant J.L. Kirby Smith. By 1860, it became the location of Smith Creek Station – a home station on the Pony Express and the first station in Shoshone territory. Sir Richard Burton described the site on October 14, 1860 as having a "good stone corral and the visual haystack...The house was unusually neat, and displayed even signs of decoration in the adornment of the bunks with osier taken from the neighboring creek."

Despite Burton's favorable description, however, 1860 was a violent year at Smith Creek Station as two shootings took place during that time. In August, stationkeeper H. Trumbo got into an argument with rider Montgomery Maze, and shot at him several times. The next day, Maze shot Trumbo with a rifle and inflicted a serious wound. By the time he arrived in Carson City, however, Maze carried a certificate signed by witnesses exonerating him from blame as Trumbo had initiated the conflict.

The second shooting was between rider William Carr and a man named Bernard Chessy. The two had earlier been involved in a scuffle, and ultimately Carr shot and killed Chessy. He was arrested and charged, and had the distinction of being the first legal hanging in the new Nevada Territory.

Though the Pony Express was superseded by the Transcontinental Telegraph in 1861, Smith Creek Station continued to serve as a station on the Central Overland Route until its dissolution about 1869. Thereafter, its desirable conditions caused it to evolve into a quite successful ranch. The Maestretti family ran it for several generations, and just after the turn of the 20th century the ranch even housed a post office and school house (used until 1941). Since 1994, the ranch has been owned by the Hendrix family, who graciously allowed access to visit the historic landmark.

Pony Express, 1860-61
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